“How about the Commons? I can bring sandwiches.”
So reads the text I received two hours before my interview with Ian Broscoe of Total Donut Solutions. Today, like every day, I’ve opted to stay under the covers for ten extra minutes instead of eating breakfast or packing a lunch; when I respond with “That’s perfect” I mean it wholeheartedly. Like with my entire tummy.
This is my first time interviewing someone so I anxiously arrive several minutes early and wait on what I hope to god are the agreed upon set of bleachers. This gives me time to go over the hard-hitting investigative journalism style questions I plan on asking today. Questions like:
- How has your experience in the restaurant industry been so far?
- What is a donut?
- Does my hair look okay to you?
- Where did the name Total Donut Solutions come from? I know you told me once but I can’t remember I’m sorry it’s been a difficult year and I find myself constantly forgetting things I’d otherwise be able to commit to memory.
- Ugh where are my KEYS?
When Ian arrives he hands me a cheese sandwich with salsa on a homemade brioche bun. It’s simple but clearly has had a lot of care and creativity put into it. This is remarkably similar to the approach Ian takes to his donuts.
And let’s be honest: we’re here to talk about donuts.
The idea for Total Donut Solutions began proofing in Ian’s mind two years ago. While travelling and eating his way through larger American cities Ian experienced a familiar feeling. Do you remember the first donut you ate as a kid? The first time you experienced that unique blend of airy, chewy, sugary carbs? Crispy and fried while maintaining the all important (not to get overly technical) squish factor? That’s a high Ian hadn’t expected to reach again in his adult life and it’s exactly the sensation he aims to recreate with every batch. Or, as Ian puts it: “Reclaiming the donuts you ate as a little weiner.”
Having worked as the wholesale manager of Java Blend for several years Ian was able to look through a unique window into the restaurant industry. Being able to see the sustainability of wholesale bakeries that focus on supplying cafes gave him the confidence to try it himself. The stars truly aligned thanks to a friendship with Federico Pasquinelli: owner of Espresso 46.
Federico was working part-time at Java Blend when he first opened his cafe window for ten hours each week. Ian approached Federico about making donuts for the cafe and Fed, being the sweetest most charming honest to goodness national treasure of a human that he is, agreed immediately.
That spirit of generosity is something Ian has seen throughout his entry into the restaurant industry. “It would be an understatement to say this hasn’t been done alone. Everyone I’ve met and talked to in the restaurant industry has been generous with time, advice and resources. Lending equipment, sharing recipes and giving me ingredients to try out.”It’s a thread which also runs through Total Donut Solutions’ other primary offering: croissants.
Photo Credit: Christina Arsenault
While perfecting his own croissant recipe he was invited to do a stage (from the french word for traineeship - a brief little take) at Montreal’s La Bête à Pain. He spent two weeks working in their various cafes and bakeries focusing on recipes and also day to day procedures.
After sheepishly asking Ian to explain the significance of the name to me his face lights up “It comes from an affection for really bland company names. There’s a charm in the idea of the front office worker who doesn’t care about marketing and just needs to know what you’re supplying.” While placing a sticker order for Java Blend he came across the company Total Solutions Incorporated “It really said it all.” Much like the sandwich I have already scarfed down there’s a beautiful creativity in finding the simple approach.
You can see it in the donuts he makes. Offerings include vanilla sprinkle, orange vanilla, berry crumble, caramel swirl, pineapple coconut and, clocking in at three flavours; the most complicated of all: the vanilla earl grey with lemon zest. It’s the harmony of simplicity and the reason you need to wipe that drool from your keyboard.
Java Blend carries croissants Wednesday through Sunday and donuts are available in the cafe Thursday through Sunday and online for delivery on weekends.
Okay one more: